The B.C. New Democrat’s newly minted leader and premier-in-waiting is promising “significant action” to bolster the province’s affordable housing, health care system, public safety and the environment.
David Eby officially became the party’s leader Friday after a contentious few days that saw the only other leadership candidate, Anjali Appadurai, disqualified by the party executive.
He paid tribute to his former opponent Friday before he rolled out his plans for his first 100 days as premier, saying he was glad Appadurai was maintaining her party membership.
“I’m setting down a marker today on these priorities for our government: housing, health care, the environment, public safety,” he said at a news conference.
“At the end of those 100 days, you will have seen announcements (and) activity from a government focused on delivering results for British Columbians that set out the groundwork for how, in the next two years, we are going to deliver significant change for British Columbians.”
Eby campaigned for leader on a housing plan that includes a $500 million fund to provide grants to non-profits and First Nations looking to buy rental properties and a pledge to fast-track approvals and construction of multi-family housing developments.
“Government used to believe that it had an obligation to build housing for middle-class families. Somehow we got away from that. We need to get back into that and deliver that housing,” he said.
“We can do it in partnership with the non-profit sector, with the private sector, with the cities, with the federal government.”
On the health-care front, Eby said his government will be looking at the process used to assess people with international credentials “to get them working as quickly as possible” to address the needs in the health system.
“There is no reason why someone with the skills of a surgeon should be doing maintenance at the local high school. These are the issues we need to address,” he said.
No date has been set yet for when Eby will be sworn in as premier.
He became the leader of the party after Appadurai was disqualified by the NDP executive this week, on the strength of a report that found a third party solicited fraudulent memberships on her behalf.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Eby for becoming the leader and the next premier of the province, saying he looks forward to working with him.
Trudeau, who was in Surrey on Friday to announce that the government’s freeze on handguns is now in effect, also paid tribute to outgoing Premier John Horgan.
He said Horgan had been a solid friend and an extraordinary leader through uncertain times.
“I can tell you that his impact, his influence and his leadership has stretched right across the country. John will be sorely missed.”
Eby called Horgan a “coach” and a “mentor”
“He has really left a historic mark on British Columbia. He has left a legacy that will be remembered for a very, very long time.”
—Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press